Mothers and their babies gathered in a room filled with support on the first day of World Breastfeeding Week.

A non-profit organization, The Milk Bank, held a human milk drive for mothers to donate their excess breast milk to premature and ill infants at IU Health Arnett Hospital.

The bank has been traveling around Indiana for the milk drive. Lafayette is its fifth stop and the first drive for World Breastfeeding Week.

Normally when a mother wants to donate, she would have to complete a screening over the phone, fill out forms and get a blood test before actually donating. If a mother were to donate at a milk drive, she could do everything all at once, according to Lauren Duncan, the donor mother coordinator.

Duncan said the process would only take 20 to 30 minutes rather than taking weeks through the regular donation process.

To ensure sanitary and safe milk, the bank does health screenings for infectious diseases and blood tests.

In the breastfeeding support group, Whitney Morris was with her almost 3-week-old baby, Lorelai, who was asleep in Morris’ arms.

Morris attended the breastfeeding support group almost once a week for a year after she had her first baby. For Lorelai, Morris has only been to the support group twice.

“My mother didn’t breastfeed (and) my grandma didn’t breastfeed, so I don’t have that women support around me,” Morris said. “To come and have other women who understand and who’ve been through it is so crucial to the success.”

Morris has not used the milk bank or donated to the milk bank, but she has donated her milk on social media groups in such as “Eats on Feets” and “Human Milk 4 Human Babies” through Facebook.

Women can also join a breastfeeding group on Facebook and either post requests for milk or offer milk.

The Milk Bank focuses more on premature babies and babies in a neonatal intensive care unit, while other milk banks are for any mother who needs more breast milk for her baby, Morris said.

“I’m a nurse, so I’m in health care,” she said. “I know that there is nothing better out there, nothing manmade, that can compare to the nutrition and just the amazingness that is breast milk.”

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